- WASHINGTON (Reuters) - FBI
Director Robert Mueller said on Monday he was restructuring the bureau
to cover gaps discovered after a series of blunders over the past year
and to focus on areas like counter-terrorism, which have grown in
since the Sept. 11 attacks.
- Mueller, who has been working on the reorganization since
he took over as head of the bureau just before the Sept. 11 attacks on
New York and Washington, said he had also decided not to name a deputy
director to replace Thomas Pickard.
- "I need to be fully engaged in the day-to-day
of the bureau," Mueller told reporters as he explained the FBI
In the proposal approved by Congress, there is a slot for a deputy director
but Mueller said for the time being he did not plan to fill it.
- Instead, he has created four new executive assistant
director positions that will focus on criminal investigations,
and counter-intelligence, law enforcement services and
- The FBI has been shaken by a series of mishaps over the
past year, ranging from misplaced files in the case of Oklahoma City bomber
Timothy McVeigh, to lost or stolen weapons and laptops to a Russian spy
within its own ranks.
- The Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the
Pentagon also raised questions about the abilities of the intelligence
operations of the FBI and other organizations.
- New divisions or offices on security, intelligence and
records management aim to fill the gaps revealed by those incidents,
- Under the reorganization, the FBI has also created a
cyber-crime division aimed at staying abreast of what is going to be a
growing focus in the 21st century, Mueller said.
- FBI Shake-Up Under Way
- The FBI has launched an organisational shake-up in
to the 11 September attacks on the United States and following months of
turmoil at the agency over several high profile errors.
- Under the reorganisation, the Federal Bureau of
will increase its emphasis on counter-terrorism and counter-intelligence
- It will also channel efforts into combating
- FBI Director Robert Mueller has appointed four assistant
directors to head four new departments devoted to criminal investigations,
counter-terrorism, law enforcement and administration.
- The bureau's investigative services, created just two
years ago by Mr Mueller's predecessor, Louis Freeh, will be dissolved,
and analysts working there will be absorbed by the criminal and
- The hope is that the agency, which has come under fire
in the recent past, will be able to respond more quickly to problems of
national security and cope better with threats against the country's
- "These reforms and restructuring will sharpen the
FBI's capacity to act deliberately and decisively in protecting Americans'
lives and liberties in the 21st century," said Attorney General John
- Embarrassing Blunders
- The FBI's reorganisation is part of a sweeping
restructuring of the Justice Department - which includes the FBI -
by Mr Ashcroft last month.
- In the course of the next five years, he intends to shift
10% of jobs from Washington DC to offices across the US and increase the
number of FBI agents and immigration workers.
- Mr Ashcroft wants the FBI to focus more on preventing
terrorism and less on solving smaller crimes, which could be left in the
hands of local police.
- But the shake-up also comes in response to a series of
blunders in the past year, for which the agency is currently under
- The discovery of files misplaced by the agency in the
case of Oklahoma bomber Timothy McVeigh, which led to a one-month delay
in his execution, raised serious doubts about the organisation's management
of key documents.
- The agency has also been attacked over the case of
FBI agent Robert Hanssen, who recently pleaded guilty to spying for Russia
over a period of some 15 years, exposing flaws in the FBI's internal
- Other problems that have dogged the agency include stolen
weapons and lost laptops.
- Needed Update
- James Lewis with the Centre for Strategic and
Studies says that the FBI "is one of many older bureaucracies that
needs updating in Washington."
- The FBI was established in the 1920s to catch gangsters
like Bonnie and Clyde, he said.
- It made sense at the time because gangs were moving from
state to state, and a federal law enforcement agency was needed to operate
across multiple jurisdictions.
- Now, he said that violent crime, drugs interdiction and
bank robberies are handled by local law enforcement or other federal
and the FBI can afford to focus on new realities including the threat of
- As Mr Ashcroft said in announcing his wartime
"we cannot do everything we once did, because lives now depend on
us doing a few things very well".
- Challenges Ahead
- But Mr Lewis sees several challenges to the refocusing
the FBI on counter-terrorism.
- The overlap between law enforcement and intelligence
in the US has not been sorted out, he said, adding, "There are members
of Congress who remember with displeasure when intelligence agencies
in the US."
- He said that the FBI can avoid the pitfalls of the past
by not setting up paramilitary enforcement forces but focusing on
- But he added, that there cannot be a domestic solution
to the transnational problem of terrorism, and "we haven't figured
out a way to deal with that".
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